Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) are a happy couple with a newborn baby - happy, that is, until a college fraternity led by its President Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) moves into the house next door and shatters the peace. Efforts to tame the students grow in intensity and the rivalry gets ferocious as the new parents fight against the odds.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's a whole lot of shaking going on - and I'm not referring only to the penis and dildo gags - but to the insanity of ideas in what is essentially an outrageous, crude party that broadly explores the divide between youth-inspired excess and turning the corner into adulthood. Forget the plot - the title says it all - the film relies on an ever-escalating thrust of juvenile energy in which basic urges, human foibles and living for the moment forms an umbrella under which the fear of getting old and forgetting how to have fun is raised.
Love him or hate him, Seth Rogen, with his husky voice, flab and foul mouth is a known quantity, but Zak Efron, who plays his nemesis as the Frat House president eager to push the envelope, is a startling surprise: no more pretty boy roles and fluttering eyelashes, Efron with tats, muscles and a mouth stuffed with a bad taste sandwich is a case to be reckoned with. It's all overdone and director Nicholas Stoller knows exactly what he is doing with this onslaught of stupidity which will appeal to audiences who have been primed with beer and pizza.
The early sequences ably describe the insecure state of mind of Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), whose cute little baby Stella (played by Elise & Zoey Vargas) has changed their lives. 'This is like The Brady Bunch,' says Kelly tentatively as they walk out of their new suburban home; 'We can have fun AND have a baby,' says Mac. The opening scene in which Mac and Kelly are trying to have adventurous sex on the dining room chair but are distracted by the ever-grinning baby, begins the story. Mouthguards, sleep masks and abstinence are the new everyday reality.
Catalyst for the propellant of the film's lunacy curve is the arrival next door of Teddy (Efron) and his frat boys, whose circle of trust relies on brotherhood before all else. It begins with a low-key 'keep it down' from the young marrieds (referring to the noise from the all-night parties and cavorting), the bonding between Teddy and Mac ('crossing swords' as they urinate side by side in the fountain) and the ultimate total deterioration of their relationship when all hell breaks loose after trust is demolished and boxing gloves donned.
There are Batman impressions, a sword fight with dildos and an outrageous scene in which Kelly's milk-heavy breasts get an unforgettable breast-pump treatment. None of it is in good taste and many will be offended, while others will shriek with raucous guffaws. Lisa Kudrow is good fun as the University Dean whose three-strikes-out policy relies on headlines and the humour comprises quick one-liners, impressionist fun, nonsensical ideas and a crazy scene involving a frat member called Garfield (Jerrod Carmichael) and a police officer (Hannibal Buress). Rose Byrne is a lovely presence as the new mother who tries to keep it together but quickly loses it and doesn't shy away from letting bad language fly.
It's not as funny as I hoped but the film is an injection of energy and disarray and will satisfy expectations of its young target market.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Every crazy prank, every dildo joke and every other vulgar idea gets into this entirely predictable movie for 18 - 24 year olds, even a tired fart joke, but it's all delivered with the full throttle performances of a well chosen cast which fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The premise of a 'nightmare on baby street' is all that keeps the screenplay going, with some late additions of 'this is what it's like to become a parent' and feeling 'older'.
That very American institution, the Frat House, has been the source of many college comedies, each more raucous than the last, giving 'foreign' audiences the distinct impression that American college life is one loud, gyrating, boozy, hazy, sex n' drugs party after another. The concept of a young couple with recent memories of those days themselves being neighbours to such a set of carefree students is on solid ground, although a little more development could have given it a wider (older?) audience.
The key characters are all forcibly delivered, from Seth Rogan as the hapless new dad, Mac, Aussie Rose Byrne (her origins clearly acknowledged in the screenplay) as his breast feeding wife Kelly, Zac Snyder as the frat house President and chief motivator, with Dave Franco as his VP, Pete.
In a Frat House, brotherhood is the glue and nothing, not even sex with your 'brother's' girlfriend, should shake that bond. All the battles fought over neighbourly noise and behaviour can be dismissed as juvenile - and they are - but the film inadvertently plays as a metaphor for all of humanity, where peace negotiations end up as futile stepping stones on the road to conflict.
Viewed in that light, the screenplay becomes a study in the psychology of human interactions on several levels, from family quarrels to global friction. Where you have loyalty, you also have betrayal; where you have love, you also have hate; and where you have peace, you also have a price tag. Anyway, don't let me spoil the party ....
Email this article
BAD NEIGHBOURS (MA15+)
CAST: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jake Johnson
PRODUCER: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, James Weaver
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller
SCRIPT: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O'Brien
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brandon Trost
EDITOR: Zene Baker
MUSIC: Michael Andrews
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Julie Berghoff
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 8, 2014